While e-commerce is a rapidly growing area that isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon, launching a business in this sector still requires plenty of strategic thinking and proactive action if you want to be able to compete with all the other ventures out there (particularly as the barriers to entry in the field keep getting lower). If you’re keen to pull ahead of the competition sooner rather than later, read on for three steps you should take today.
When you’re selling products online, your website is your shopfront. As a result, it’s one of the most important factors in building a successful e-commerce business. After all, with the globalisation of the world, your venture won’t only be competing with other online stores in your state or even country, but with businesses across the world.
There are many elements involved in creating a quality website. For starters, the design must be spot on. It should clearly showcase your organisation’s branding, and have a simple and easy-to-use navigation that is straightforward for all users, no matter their online shopping experience. It should be clear:
- How shoppers can get from one page to another
- How they can find the information they’re looking for
- How to get in contact with you when they need assistance or more information
The design of your website is a key factor too. You need to use a font that is easy to read, in a good size that people of all ages will be able to read; and make use of lots of interesting, yet relevant graphics. Showcase plenty of photos and videos of your products so that customers can easily tell what they would be getting if they make a purchase, and include lots of information on each one.
Don’t forget to leave plenty of white space on each page of your site too. This white space (the areas on a page where there aren’t any text or graphics) allows browsers to rest their eyes for a second, and ensures that the overall look of a page isn’t too cluttered.
An effective website will also contain clear calls-to-action, such as “Add to Cart,” “Checkout,” and “Sign Up.” This helps to ensure that as many browsers as possible either sign up to your mailing list, complete a contact form for further information, purchase an item, or complete some other action.
Of course, you won’t end up with many sales through your new e-commerce store if you don’t make it easy for customers to complete transactions. To do this (while at the same time not costing your venture too much money or stress), you need to select the right merchant services (authorised financial services that allow a business to accept credit card or bank debit card transactions using online ordering or point of sales systems) firm for your needs.
There are a number of aspects to choosing a provider. For starters, make sure you opt for a firm who will let you accept a wide variety of payment options, as customers certainly expect this. For example, it pays to accept debit and credit cards, direct checks, PayPal transactions, direct deposits, BYAP transactions, and the like.
A top merchant services firm will also have a strong focus on security. Select a company that will keep your customers’ financial and personal details away from prying eyes, as well as protect your firm from potential liability issues. The most secure payment processing providers typically:
- Enable CVV2 verification
- Provide support for top-level SSL certificates
- Have comprehensive data encryption with complicated algorithms in place
- Impose very tight restrictions on how data is sent and stored online through their systems
When choosing a provider, make sure you also find out about their level of customer support. You want to be able to get in touch with them at any time of the day or night if there is an issue with transactions, so that you don’t miss out on sales. As such, look for a firm which provides 24/7 support through a variety of methods, like emails, phone calls, and live chat.
Lastly, it’s important to be aware that when you sell online, you must find ways to help customers feel that they can trust your business, even though they can’t walk into a physical store or meet you in person. This can be done in a variety of ways, and will make a huge difference to your sales results.
To build trust, make sure your website showcases as many testimonials and product reviews as possible. Also add these (or ask customers to add them) to social media sites like Google+ and Facebook. Seeing such feedback from other people will help browsers to feel more comfortable in spending money with you. You should also prominently display site seals and accreditations, such as being part of the Google Trusted store program, using well-regarded SSL certificates and merchant services providers, and/or being part of industry groups.